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Astoria Houses Community Group Raises $184,000 for Students’ College Funds

Families from the Astoria Houses NYCHA complex celebrate the launch of the Save for College Program in 2018 (GoFundMe).

Feb. 5, 2021, By Michael Dorgan

A local residents’ group has helped raise more than $180,000 to encourage children living in the Astoria Houses NYCHA complex to attend college.

The Astoria Houses Resident Association created a GoFundMe page in June with the goal of ensuring that every child living in the development would have at least $1,000 in savings for college upon graduating high school.

The group said that the money would help students reach their full potential when they leave school. The residents will co-host a virtual event Saturday to celebrate the achievement.

“We want every single one of them to know that they can achieve anything they set their minds to,” Claudia Coger, president of the AHRA wrote on the GoFundMe page on June 5.

“Education opens doors to tremendous opportunity. Our youngest need to know that they have a whole community behind them cheering them on.”

The organizers said that they want to build on the success of a scholarship and savings program that was set up by the non-profit NYC KIDS Rise and the Dept. of Education about three years earlier.

The program, called the Save For College Program, created a fund for kindergartners, first-graders and second-graders attending public schools throughout much of western Queens. The aim of the initiative is to make college more accessible for children.

Under the program, $21,000 was raised for 134 students living in the Astoria Houses complex–equating to a little over $150 per child.

However, that feat wasn’t enough for members of the AHRA.

“We want this number to be higher,” wrote Coger, who led a new drive to raise an additional $134,000 – the equivalent of $1,000 extra for each child.

That goal was met in early January and – buoyed by its success – the group decided to expand its reach. They sought to raise an additional $1,000 for each of the 50 newest kindergartens living in the complex.

On Feb. 2 the AHRA met its latest goal. In total, the GoFundMe brought in just over $184,000 from 170 donors.

The donations included $40,000 from the College Opportunity Fund, $7,500 from Plaxall, $7,500 from Dana Zucker and Brahm Cramer, $5,000 from the non-profit Tisch Illumination Fund, $5,000 from the Durst Organization and $5,000 from IMB Development Corporation.

The donations have been deposited with NYC Kids RISE, which is allocating the funds into each student’s Save for College Program account.

The AHRA will co-host the virtual celebration with NYC Kids RISE via Facebook Live on Feb. 6 from 10 a.m.

The event will feature a read-along of Kamala Harris’s children’s book called Superheroes Are Everywhere.

The event will also include a panel discussion about community support for college and career readiness with local Queens parents, educators, and community leaders. Recorded messages from local elected officials and other community members will also be shown.

Those looking to watch can do so via this link.

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